Candidates meet for first time at Chamber all-candidates meeting

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By Nick Seebruch
Candidates meet for first time at Chamber all-candidates meeting
Green Party candidate Dr. Jeanie Warnock at the Cornwall and Area Chamber of Commerce's all-candidates meeting on Wednesday, September 1, 2021 (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

CORNWALL, Ontario – The Cornwall and Area Chamber of Commerce held the first all-candidates meeting of the 2021 federal election on Wednesday evening, Sept. 1.

The meeting was attended by four of the five candidates running in the riding of Stormont, Dundas, South Glengarry.

Candidates Eric Duncan of the Conservative Party of Canada, Dr. Jeanie Warnock of the Green Party, Denis Moquin of the Liberal Party, and David Anber of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) were all in attendance. NDP candidate Trevor Kennedy was invited to the event, but was unable to attend.

The event was recorded by YourTV and broadcast live on the Chamber’s website, and will be re-broadcast at a later date on Cogeco Channel 11.

In the days before the event, the Chamber solicited questions from the public, which were put to the candidates by moderators Greg Pietersma, Chamber Executive Director, and Shannon Lebrun, Chamber President, with the event itself being organized by Chamber Executive Assistant Shannon Tierney.

The questions covered a variety of topics, both local and national, with a question about vaccine passports being the first issue that was tackled by the candidates.

Warnock of the Green Party expressed her support for vaccine passports, citing them as the best way to return to “normal.” Conservative Eric Duncan had a two pronged answer. On the one hand, Duncan supports some form of vaccine passport for international travel, but domestically said that the issue of vaccine passports was an issue for provinces and local health units. He said that vaccination should be an individual choice, with rapid testing being the best way to track and stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

PPC Candidate David Anber.

The PPC’s David Anber said that vaccine passports and vaccine mandates represented a violation of individual freedoms.

“At the end of the day, a person’s decision to get vaccinated should be that person’s and that person’s alone,” he said.

Denis Moquin of the Liberal Party encouraged everyone to go out and get vaccinated.

Locally, candidates were asked about how they would deal with the issue of the location of the Cornwall Port of Entry and the toll booth location on the Seaway International Bridge, which represents a burden for Indigenous residents in Akwesasne who want to travel into Cornwall.

“I love the question because I feel it doesn’t get enough attention,” Duncan said. “The fact that there is a physical barrier between Akwesasne and Cornwall and the Counties is wrong and is frankly discrimination.”

Duncan used the example of more affluent residential areas on the Cornwall side of the St. Lawrence River like Riverdale and Long Sault, in South Stormont, and said that if residents in those areas were facing the same barrier as the residents of Akwesasne that they would not stand for it.

Moquin agreed, saying that it felt like Akwesasne was being neglected.

“The toll bridge is obviously in the wrong location,” he said.

After the debate, Seaway News had the opportunity to ask a few direct questions to some of the candidates.

Duncan commented on the Canadian Blood Ban, a discriminatory ban which prevents men who have sex with other men from donating blood. The Liberal government

Conservative candidate Eric Duncan.

had promised to end the ban six years ago, but when their campaign platform was released earlier this week, Duncan was disappointed to see that it was not mentioned anywhere.

“It is a lot of virtue signalling, but without any follow through,” he said.

Liberal candidate Denis Moquin.

Moquin explained that the most common issue that he was hearing as he goes door-to-door during this campaign were ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seaway News asked Dr. Warnock what she would tell people who are concerned about controversies between her party leader Annamie Paul and other members of her party’s leadership. Paul had faced a vote on her leadership in July, but the vote was cancelled before it could take place.

“I would say that we should stay focused on what’s important, and what’s important is action on climate change,” Warnock said.

Warnock said she had every confidence that Paul would run a strong campaign and win in her riding of Toronto Centre.

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